Child Early and Forced Marriages: Reaching the Unreached through Vocational Training
SPARC has entered into an agreement with the Commonwealth School of Learning (COL). The Canadian funded project largely aims at improved sustainable livelihoods for 5,000 disadvantaged young women and girls in Multan, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, Peshawar and slum areas of Islamabad during March 15, 2016- February 28, 2017. Increased skills among girls with acquisition of knowledge about their health, social rights are key objectives of the project where SPARC would cater to the beneficiaries through its already established centers in the target cities. In the long run, the project would help addressing the issue of Child Early and Forced Marriages (CEFM).
Improve Sustainable Livelihoods for Disadvantaged Girls in the Underprivileged Communities of Punjab
SPARC has entered into another three year long partnership with COL. The Australian funded project would reach out to 6,000 girls and young women in Multan and Muzaffargarh through increased technical and vocational skills and awareness and aspirations for employment opportunities. The project would cater to girls and women victimized by child early and forced marriage through skill provision and technology based learning.
Countering Violent Extremism
Engaging Youth of Karachi University through Leadership Skills
SPARC signed agreement with the Karachi Youth Initiative on countering violent extremsim. The project seeks to create Youth Rights Clubs (YRCs) in Karachi University, with students from the sociology, psychology and visual studies departments. The aim of the project is to create awareness amongst the youth about their rights and responsibilities via youth leadership and blogging trainings, guest lectures on countering violent narratives and exposure visits to places of worship for peaceful coexistence.
Publication of the State of Pakistan’s Children
The State of Pakistan’s Children is a report published annually by SPARC since 1997 and encompasses all the major sectors that are relevant to child rights including; education, health, child labor, violence against children and juvenile justice. The report also gives recommendations for the government to take appropriate measures in order to address the issues faced by children across the country.
For the latest report, please visit The State of Pakistan's Children page.
Promoting Child Friendly Classroom Environment in Selected Schools of KP
SPARC, with the financial support of KNH and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), is implementing a four year educational project in selected schools of Districts Abbottabad and Haripur in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The project, Promoting child friendly classroom environment in selected schools of KP, largely aims at improving quality of education and learning outcomes in target districts through provision of basic educational facilities and infrastructural support to 60 selected schools, training of 120 master trainers and over 360 school teachers and strengthening of child protection systems in the province through lobbying and awareness raising.
As of March 2016, SPARC has:
- Refurbished 30 selected schools of Abbottabad with provision of WASH and play facilities;
- Work in another 30 schools of Haripur is ongoing
- Trained 237 Parents Teachers Councils members from 60 schools on improved governance at school level
- Trained 116 teachers as Master Trainers on effective classroom management techniques
- 132 new teachers were trained by MTs where upon the request of District Education Department Abbottabad; teachers of 5 additional schools were trained as well.
- Developed a comprehensive quiz and spelling booklet for further used by teachers during competitions
- Child Rights Committees and member lawyers provided legal aid to 24 beneficiaries and 29 fact findings were reported from both districts.
- A book fair was organized at Government Girls Primary School Srisala at Haripur where Assistant Commissioner Haripur, District Education Officers, Social Welfare Department officials participated
- Coordination with likeminded NGOs and awareness raising through multiple channels including IEC material, theater performances, articles in local newspapers and airing of radio spots are features of the project.
Peace and Cohesion through Dialogue
A project advocating on tolerance, peace and co-existence is being carried out with the support of the Canadian High Commission (December 2015- March 2016). SPARC and the High Commission firmly believe that Pakistan can find strength and success in its diversity where all women and men have the right to worship in peace and security. Two consultative seminars/dialogues were held in Karachi and Hyderabad with the involvement of religious leaders, scholars, academia and civil society representatives. Another similar dialogue will be held at the University of Hyderabad.
Identification of Barriers to Girls’ Education in Targeted Districts of the Punjab
This project (June- December 2015) was implemented with the support of Awaaz funding in three districts of South Punjab including Multan, Muzafargarh and Bahawalpur. The main objective of the project was to create knowledge and awareness on barriers to girls education in targeted districts of Punjab. The project addressed a development issue in Punjab whereby 13 million children (6.8 million girls) in the province are out of schools.
SPARC conducted a research study to identify the issues that create hurdles for the education of young girls up to the age of 5 to 16.The research was undertaken by a consultant firm under the supervision of SPARC. The research provided a holistic perspective behind low enrolment of girls in schools. The research engaged all stakeholders who were directly concerned with educating the girl child including the parents, children, school principals, teachers and officials from the districts and provincial education departments. The published research and its findings were disseminated through seminars at district and provincial levels. Three seminars were conducted during November and December 2015.
Click here to download the full report
Communities Taking Charge: Bringing Quality back into Public Primary Schools
The poor quality of education in state schools in Pakistan has caused an exodus of students from public to private educational institutions. Between 1998 and 2013, private schools have grown by 69% while the government education sector has only increased by 8%.
This situation is reflected in the district data on Multan and Bahawalpur, two important districts of the underdeveloped Southern Punjab region. This situation has prevailed in spite of considerable state interventions to bolster the public education sector in the province: these include low cost government schools, free education and end corporal punishment initiatives. This indicates the poor quality of service delivery of the public sector schools which is not only resulting in the growth of private sector education but also causing an “exodus” of students from government to private schools.
This project aims to address this gap in the quality of public and private sector schools through a synergistic approach encompassing research, community mobilization and advocacy.
Rebuilding Schools in the Flood- Affected Areas of District Badin, Sindh
The monsoon season of 2011 brought death and destruction to the people of Sindh when flash floods ravaged large parts of the province, affecting lives, property and infrastructure. It is estimated that almost 4.8 million children were affected in Sindh alone- including 500,000 children below the age of five years. Apart from raising health, shelter and security issues; the floods caused massive damage to the education infrastructure in the affected areas, resulting in a drastic decline in school attendance. UNICEF estimated that the 2011 floods damaged 60% of the schools in the affected areas, pushing more than 400,000 children out of school: almost 729,000 children were deprived of learning materials. Moreover, according to a UNICEF assessment, as of 2011, 1,244 schools (mostly in Sindh) were being used as shelters by the flood affected. This resulted in further damage to school infrastructure as people were forced to burn school furniture during the winters to keep themselves warm.
The worst affected districts of Sindh (including Badin, Mirpurkhas, Tando Muhammad Khan, Mithi, Tando Allah Yar, Matiari, Hyderabad, and Jamshoro) are still reeling from the after effects of the floods. Education infrastructure is the worst affected, especially in the already underdeveloped districts like Badin where reconstruction of schools is being undertaken at a slow pace. This has resulted in massive school dropout rates as large numbers of flood affected children have not returned to resume their education.
Therefore SPARC with assistance from TDH, executed a project to rehabilitate these schools in order to ensure that these children, who have already suffered a great deal of devastation and personal loss, are provided with a safe learning environment.
Countering Violence in the Prisons of Punjab
In December 2013, SPARC started a project titled “Countering Violence in the Prisons of Punjab” with the cooperation of US Embassy of Pakistan “INL Program”. The project was implemented in nine jails of four districts in Punjab including Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan and Sahiwal.
The main objective of the project was to provide legal aid to under trial adult male and female and juvenile prisoners by providing free legal assistance. SPARC also provided non-formal education to juveniles and women. Vocational trainings were also provided to other adult Under Trial Prisoners in the selected prisons.
Through this project, we aimed to ensure that these individuals are reintegrated back into society as reformed citizens with alternative livelihood opportunities.
Background Information: In Pakistan, under trial prisoners (UTPs) including juveniles languish for years in detention while waiting for the completion of their trials and have been kept in jail longer than the maximum penalty associated with their crime. Overcrowding in prisons leads to many UTPs coming into contact with dangerous criminals and extremists who manipulate and radicalize them thereby transforming them into hardened criminals rather than rehabilitated and refined individuals.
- Free legal assistance provided by SPARC to all the needy and deserving under trial prisoners languishing in the selected prisons. The full time services of 15 experienced lawyers were obtained in the four mentioned cities. Legal Aid was provided to 1817 adult male prisoners, 35 female prisoners and 92 juveniles.
- Non-Formal Education offered to the female UTPs in Multan and the juveniles in Faisalabad. Three trained teachers were hired for this purpose. Interactive sessions were conducted and books and stationary were provided. The teachers hired by SPARC visited the prisons on a daily basis. A total of 243 prisoners received Non-Formal Education.
- Vocational training and skills development offered to the adult UTPs, male and female, in the trades: Electrician, Motorcycle Mechanic, Tractor Mechanic, Beautician, Tailoring; and Embroidery skills. Reputed training institutes were involved as third parties to ensure certification of the courses. A total of 223 participants took part in our vocational training.
The result of the project was reduction in the number of prisoners, overcrowding and the prevailing violent situations in prisons. The non- formal education component and vocational trainings helped the released prisoners to reintegrate in the society in a better way. The project demonstrated how timely processing of cases and release of prisoners and empowering them with livelihood skills and education could have a positive impact on the situation within jails and decrease the likelihood of repeat offenses and lead to positive rehabilitation in the society.
Violence Against Children
Prevention of Early Marriages in Mithi, Sindh
In Pakistan, child marriages mostly occur in poor rural communities. Girl children are especially vulnerable to underage marriages. Young brides are exposed to brutal and life threatening forms of violence including domestic violence, sexual abuse and reproductive health complications associated with early sexual activity and childbearing. The extensive socially accepted practice of early or child marriage is clearly a violation of the rights of the child and a harmful traditional practice.
Sindh is one of the most impoverished in the country, and research carried out into the issue indicates this is a key factor in the increase in such unlawful unions, with parents often tempted to sell off young girls in exchange for the high price offered by grooms, often many times the age of their ‘brides’. Families facing acute economic hardships have stated they have “no choice” but to sell off girls to older men, while in many cases the deal is made by a single, almost invariably male member of the family, such as the father or grandfather of the girl, without consulting other family members.
Therefore, SPARC undertook a project to tackle the issue of child marriages in District Mithi, Sindh. Through large-scale advocacy with village elders, teachers, nikkah registrars and religious figures, the organization aimed to bring about a change in harmful traditional practices and the mindset of the local community.